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The effect of school social composition on student achievement in Australia

Perry, L.B. (2007) The effect of school social composition on student achievement in Australia. In: Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Forum 2007, 11 August 2007, Edith Cowan University, Mount Lawley Campus


It is well known that individual socio-economic status (SES) affects student achievement. Higher individual SES is correlated with higher performance in key subject areas. In addition to individual SES, the overall SES of the student body within a school also has an independent effect on student achievement. All things being equal, a student with an average SES will perform at a higher level in a high SES school than in a lower SES school. Research has shown that socio-economic composition is the most important school-level variable affecting student achievement, even larger than class size, homework policy, or teacher quality. While the effect of school composition has been documented in the literature, little is known about the exact effects of school composition on students of varying SES backgrounds. In other words, we do not know if students are affected similarly regardless of their SES, or if lower SES students are affected more by the composition of the school. It is also not known if the effect of school composition is linear, or if it diminishes with increases in the mean SES of the school. This study uses data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to answer these questions.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
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